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How to make an alpine trough

You will need

  • Bricks
  • Coir fibre
  • Cement
  • Plastic sheet
  • Sand
  • Trowel
  • Two cardbaord boxes
  • Wire mesh
  • Wooden dowel
Do it: spring to autumn
Takes just: a couple of hours, then two days to let the concrete set

Overview

Old stone sinks make perfect containers for alpines, but they're hard to come by. You can easily make your own concrete lookalike; all you need are two strong cardboard boxes. One should fit inside the other, leaving a gap of around 5cm. Simply make a mould from the cardboard boxes and fill it with a concrete mix. Adding coir to the concrete mix will give your container a rougher texture, and the trough can be easily distressed with a trowel to give it a more aged appearance.


How to do it

Cement mix

1

Mix together two parts sieved coir fibre, one part cement and one part sharp sand. Pour water into a well in the centre and mix it together to form a stiff paste.


Creating the cement base

2

Using a trowel, place a 2.5cm layer of concrete into the bottom of the larger cardboard box. Ensure the concrete is spread into the corners.


Adding wire mesh to the base of the trough

3

Cut a piece of small-gauge wire mesh to fit the bottom of the box. Place it on top of the mixture to reinforce the trough, and add a further 2.5cm layer of cement over the top of the mesh.


Adding the second part of the mould

4

Push 5cm-long pieces of wooden dowel into the base of the trough for drainage. Then, place the smaller box inside the larger one, leaving a gap of around 5cm.


Adding bricks and more wire mesh to reinforce the walls

5

Putting bricks inside the inner box will stop it collapsing. Insert sections of mesh along each side, cutting them shorter than the depth of the box so they'll be hidden.


Adding cement to the mould

6

Add cement to the sides of the mould to make a wall. Use a stick to push it into the corners. This will prevent air pockets from weakening the walls.


Adding bricks to the side of the box to support it

7

When all the concrete mixture is in place, support the outer sides of the box with more bricks. Then cover the entire thing with a plastic sheet.


Removing the cardboard box mould

8

After two days, when the concrete is set, remove the sheet of plastic and supporting bricks and peel the cardboard away from the sides.


Ageing the trough with a trowel

9

The sides of the trough can be aged by roughly scraping them with a trowel. After a week, use a hammer and large nail to push the wooden dowels out of the trough, leaving holes for drainage.




Discuss this project

Talkback: How to make an alpine trough
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

wales3 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Where can you buy coir fibre?

Kayleigh Middleton 29/09/2012 at 10:43

Try Greenthusiasm.co.uk for mail order.

Berghill 29/09/2012 at 12:33

You do not need coir fibre, you can use peat or non-peat compost, just as effectivwe and cheaper.

http://www.growsonyou.com/Owdboggy/blog/19519-a-hypertufa-trough